Your Child’s School District Will Decide When to Reopen.
California superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond declared that the state will allow its approximately 1,000 school districts to determine the most appropriate time to reopen campuses individually.
With more than 6.2 million students abruptly moved to online instruction back in March and California school districts announcing that they would be conducting the remainder of the academic year via remote learning, districts are now strategizing the safest way to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.
Thurmond made a statement promising to provide guidance and recommendations on how to reopen safely. “I want to be clear: Opening will happen in a way where we place safety first,” Thurmond said. “We won’t ask any school to open their campus to students if we cannot point to data, and consultation from our health partners and workplace safety experts.” Some California educators and parents are skeptical of the state’s “safety first” commitment in light of projected budget cuts that will make it harder for school districts to access safety equipment like masks and extra space for social distancing.
It seems that even when public schools do reopen, which could perhaps be as early as July, children, faculty and staff will be asked to wear face masks and possibly attend in “shifts.” That is, the schools would “stagger” attendance, with some students attending the morning shift and others receiving afternoon instruction. This scenario could be very likely, considering that there is a newfound need for smaller classes in order to practice effective social distancing.
Policy makers have yet to address key questions and concerns posed by parents. For instance, how will parents return to work if their children require more childcare during the day due to the “staggered” school day? Will parents be asked to supply their children with the necessary “personal protective equipment?” Do schools currently have the necessary staff to enforce social distancing amongst students who are too young to understand the importance of practicing good hygiene and social distancing?
School districts may be inclined to reopen sooner, rather than later, as many educators have raised concerns regarding the potential learning loss from students receiving instruction remotely. Many parents not only worry that the quality of education received online is inferior to that of in-person learning, but also that some students are placed at a disadvantage due to individual technological barriers, such as not having multiple devices for households with more than one student.
Educators and Advocates are concerned that the projected $54 billion dollar shortfall California is projected to face due to the COVID19 pandemic may disproportionately impact high needs children. The potential shortfall may result in an $18 billion dollar cut to the education budget.
If this fear comes to pass, school districts will be forced to make cuts, as they need more resources than ever in order to open safely and effectively.
Tony Thurmond asked students and parents to stay tuned in upcoming weeks.